Monday, September 19, 2016

"Ethical Socialism"

I owe the excerpt from Oswald Spengler below to statistician Briggs.  It is indeed interesting.  Spengler was a popular German thinker of the early 20th century.  He thought that European civilization had just about reached its limit and was bound to fall while some other civilization arose.  The gutless reaction to Islamic hostility in the Western world today certainly does bring Spengler to mind.

And it is notable that Spengler identifies socialism as the power-hungry but ultimately nihilistic force that is destroying the countries it dominates.  His diagnosis of socialism as inherently totalitarian has certainly been borne out by subsequent events in Russia and Germany.

But in an indirect way, Spengler was responsible for the rise of Nazism.  He never was a Nazi and rejected its antisemitism but his diagnosis of his own society  as dying from its own weakness and lack of self-confidence did plant in people's minds  the hope that a strong leader would emerge who would restore the national will and self-confidence  -- make it great again --  and thus rescue European civilization from its decline.  And we all know who came along in Germany to offer just that.

Hitler was of course an idol who had feet of clay but it is not unreasonable to hope that a new leader with fewer flaws could arise.  And that seems to be where we are now.  No matter how often Muslim terrorists murder us, our Left-dominated leaders refuse to do anything about it.  And the rise of Trump has exposed the great discontent among the people about the lack of reaction to Islamic supremacism.

Trump is also far from a perfect saviour but he seems to be the only saviour we've got.  A successful American businessman and an undistinguished Austrian artist are very different people so very different things are to be expected from them.  What we get may not be ideal but it may include what we need.

But the rescue we need is NOT from Islam.  As Spengler foresaw, it is from the ever more powerful Left.  There is no lack of  patriotic pride and civilizational confidence among ordinary Americans.  It is the Left who are keeping a lid on it rather than proclaiming and defending it.  There is nothing wrong with America and Americans.  It is only the Leftist and Left-dominated parasites riding on its back that are the problem.  Reagan neutered them for a while but they have regrouped.  Trump is our best hope of purging their influence and hitting back at Islam

In spite of its foreground appearances, ethical Socialism is not a system of compassion, humanity, peace and kindly care, but one of will-to-power. Any other reading of it is illusory. The Stoic takes the world as he finds it, but the Socialist wants to organize and recast it in form and substance, to fill it with his own spirit. The Stoic adapts himself, the Socialist commands. He would have the whole would take the shape he desires, thus transferring the idea of the Critique of Pure Reason into the ethical field.

This is the ultimate meaning of the Categorical Imperative, which he brings to bear in political, social and economic matters alike—act as thought the maxims that you practise were to become by your will the law for all. And this tyrannical tendency is not absent from even the shallowest phenomena of the time. It is not attitude and mien, but activity that is to be given form. As in China and Egypt, life only counts insofar as it is deed. And it is mechanicalizing of the organic concept of Deed that leads to the concept of work as commonly understood, the civilized form of Faustian effecting.

Apollian man looked back to a Golden Age; this relieved him of the trouble of thinking upon what was still to come. The Socialist feels the Future as his task and aim, and accounts the happiness of the moment as worthless in comparison. The Classical spirit, with its oracles and its omens, wants only to know the future, but the Westerner would shape it. The Third Kingdom is the Germanic ideal. From Joachim of Floris to Nietzsche and Ibsen—arrows of yearning to the other bank, as the Zarathustra says—every great man has linked his life to an eternal morning.

And here Socialism becomes tragic. It is of the deepest significance that Nietzsche, so completely clear and sure in dealing with what should be destroyed, what transvalued, loses himself in nebulous generalities as soon as he comes to discuss the Whither, the Aim. His criticism of decadence is unanswerable, but his theory of the Superman is a castle in the air.

And therein lies a deep necessity; for, from Rousseau onwards, Faustian man has nothing more to hope for in anything pertaining to the grand style of Life. Something has come to an end. The Northern soul has exhausted its inner possibilities, and of the dynamic force and insistence that had exposed itself in world-historical visions of the future—visions of a millennial scope—nothing remains but the mere pressure, the passionate desire to create, the form without the content.

The soul was Will and nothing but Will. It needed an aim for its Columbus-longing; it had to give its inherent activity at least the illusion of a meaning and an object. And so the keener critic will find a trace of Hjalmar Ekdal in all modernity, even its highest phenomena. Ibsen called it the lie of life.

For deep down beneath it all is the gloomy feeling, not to be repressed, that all this hectic zeal is the despairing self-deception of a soul that may not and cannot rest. This is the tragic situation—the inversion of the Hamlet motive—and a thread of it runs through the entire fabric of Socialism, political, economic and ethical, which forces itself to ignore the annihilating seriousness of its own final implications, so as to keep alive the illusion of the historical necessity of its own existence.


IQ rediscovered yet again.  You can't suppress reality for long

They account for around one per cent of the population and much of their success has been put down to dedication and perseverance.

But new studies are now challenging the notion that extremely intelligent children earn their achievements through hard work.

Instead, they suggest that they may have a genetic advantage from birth, and that success is built on this early head-start.

Two clusters of genes have been found that are directly linked to human intelligence.

Called M1 and M3, these 'gene networks' appear to determine how smart a person is by controlling their memory, attention, processing speed and reasoning.

Crucially, scientists have also discovered that these two networks - which each contain hundreds of genes - are likely to be under the control of master regulator switches.

Researchers from Imperial College London are now keen to identify these switches and explore whether it might be feasible to manipulate them.

The research is at a very early stage, but the scientists would ultimately like to investigate whether it is possible to use this knowledge of gene networks to boost cognitive function.

The investigators analysed thousands of genes expressed in the human brain, and then combined these results with genetic information from healthy people who had undergone IQ tests.

Remarkably, they found that some of the same genes that influence human intelligence in healthy people were also the same genes that cause impaired cognitive ability and epilepsy when mutated.

In the US, there are several universities that look out for early talent and have been tracking where high-achieving children end up.  Their results show that those who succeed have an early cognitive advantage.

Johns Hopkins University in Maryland runs a talent programme which is open to adolescents who scored in the top one per cent in maths and English.  Notable alumni include Mark Zuckerburg, founder of Facebook, and Lady Gaga.

While many of the children on this programme have gone on to achieve great things, Jonathan Wai, a psychologist in the Talent Identification Programme at Duke University in North Carolina, wanted to test whether childhood aptitude was a guide to success in general.

He looked at five subsets of the US elite – federal judges, billionaires, Fortune 500 chief executives and members of the Senate and House of Representatives. He found that in each subset, those in the top one per cent of ability were over-represented.

While these people could have pushy parents, or have attended top schools, Mr Wai argues that environment factors alone cannot account for success.....

While these studies do suggest that intelligence has a high genetic basis, education and opportunity could still lead to success for those without a strong genetic basis.



Did the bank bailouts really save the free market system?

Eight years ago, on September 15, Lehman Brothers failed, starting a rapid series of events that resulted in the bank bailouts and the country has not been the same in so many ways.

While President George W. Bush famously said that he, “abandoned free market principles to save the free market system” explaining his decision to bail out Wall Street, General Motors and other failing entities. But did he save it, and if so, for who?

General Motors for its part, emboldened by its debt-free balance sheet invested in new factories in China and is now importing a mid-sized crossover SUV known as the Envision. Meanwhile Flint, Michigan, which used to be known as Buick City, finds itself struggling as a city left behind, more known as a place which messed up its drinking water treatment than for its auto legacy.

The banks have largely pulled out of the tailspin, but after bailing them out, the Obama Justice Department has been busily suing the survivors and winning massive awards with the big winners being local advocacy groups who have been cut into a big piece of the pie, even though they were not harmed in any way. Investor’s Business Daily reports, “Radical Democrat activist groups stand to collect millions from Attorney General Eric Holder’s record $17 billion deal to settle alleged mortgage abuse charges against Bank of America. Buried in the fine print of the deal, which includes $7 billion in soft-dollar consumer relief, are a raft of political payoffs to Obama constituency groups. In effect, the government has ordered the nation’s largest bank to create a massive slush fund for Democrat special interests.”

This creation of a well-funded new network of housing advocacy groups, exactly like the discredited ACORN which served as the community organizers who encouraged people with next to no ability to take out loans to buy first or sometimes even bigger homes.

Since the 2008 bailout, the labor participation of workers between the ages of 16-64 has continued to drop and millions more workers have increasingly been shifted to the service economy, or what’s left of it. Those who can’t make it wash out of the economy altogether.

But perhaps most significantly, the banking collapse and subsequent bailout led to eight years of President Obama’s constantly pulling at the threads of America finding the frayed edges and sowing discontent wherever possible.

America today is less confident and surefooted about the future economically and abroad, and while it can’t all be attributed to the bank crisis, it was this seminal event that threw us collectively off balance.  Our economic lives tossed about due to events that were not only out of our control, but were not understandable.

Eight years ago today, Lehman Brothers fell, starting a domino effect which continues to this day with persistent minimal economic growth numbers and unemployment numbers dependent upon people dropping out of the economy to be maintained.

Oh what an eight years it has been.



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